Macedonia: MEPs worry about increasingly homophobic climate

A young activist was attacked on Sunday in Skopje, where a growing climate of intolerance towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people has developed. In the last two weeks, political leaders have repeatedly made declarations against increasing social rights for LGBT people.

Minister Spiro RistovskiOn 12th October, Minister for Labour and Social policy Spiro Ristovski stated that same-sex couples should not be able to marry, and children must be raised by different-sex couples.

No rights organisation had asked for same-sex marriage or adoption rights in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

The Minister has since repeated similar statements in social media. They are also relayed by television and print media, including TV channel SITEL which linked homosexuality to incest, pedophilia and poloygamy. The newspaper Vecer has also keenly spread inflammatory articles against LGBT people in the following days.

Yesterday two individuals violently attacked President of human rights NGO ‘LGBT United Macedonia’ Alen Shakiri on the street. Hate speech by political leaders and in national media often leads to attacks, as violent individuals feel their actions become legitimate.

Ulrike Lunacek MEP, Co-President of the LGBT Intergroup, reacted: “As the European Commission noted again this year, Macedonia still falls short of EU standards on anti-discrimination based on sexual orientation. I addressed the Parliament in Skopje two years ago, pleading for a comprehensive anti-discrimination law. I am sad to see that inequalities don’t only persist, but intolerance is on the rise as well.”

Michael Cashman MEP, the other Intergroup Co-President, agreed: “Political leaders—and the Minister in charge of anti-discrimination in particular!—should know better than to make derogatory comments, especially in public. Macedonians are worth more than this scaremongering.”

Soon the European Parliament will adopt its annual progress report on the country’s accession to the European Union.

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